Artist Chris Rutterford brings new look to New St graffiti wall

Chris Rutterford with his New Street graffiti. Picture: contributed
Chris Rutterford with his New Street graffiti. Picture: contributed
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THE brightly coloured artwork has long attracted appreciative glances from passers-by and brought visitors to stand and admire. Designers have even used it as a backdrop for fashion shoots.

Now the familiar wall of graffiti in New Street has been given a new look – thanks to a massive “frame” of images added to even off the rough edges.

Picture: supplied

Picture: supplied

Artist Chris Rutterford, who has led the project, said he was approached by developers Artisan, the firm behind the massive Caltongate scheme, to “smarten up” the wall.

He said: “I was slightly taken aback at the suggestion – the art being produced has so much energy and vitality. But on closer inspection I thought there was a way it could be improved. The street-art zone, while having a huge expanse of canvas, has a utilitarian framing as the hoarding was built in a functional and cost-effective way. It steps down the slope of the street.

“If I was hanging a picture in my house I would not choose to frame it in such a raggedy scruffy way – it cheapens the content.”

Mr Rutterford produced a whole series of 8ft x 2ft panels and got a mix of children, street artists, professional artists and people from the community to paint on them, helping to create a “vibrant urban sketchbook”.

What we have now is the largest al fresco gallery in Scotland.

Chris Rutterford

He says the images include several different styles of fish and also a “horror zone”.

The panels have now been installed on top of the wall. “There’s about 180 metres of new work,” said Mr Rutterford. “Framing the hoardings in a smart but organic way has revolutionised the space. What we have now is the largest al fresco gallery in Scotland.”

He said the result was spectacular. “We have children’s art mixing freely alongside illustration, new-age mysticism, landscape and, of course, street art. When these are added to the top edge of the painted street art the transformative effect is instant and dynamic.

“It feels like a magic trick – throw these panels on top and it looks three times as good. It shouldn’t be that easy, it’s a change of perception.”

Mr Rutterford, famous for his large-scale murals, said when it comes to street art the Capital is leading the way.

The graffiti wall in New Street has been running for seven years.

“Edinburgh street artists are leading the way for Scotland with the zone operating in such an enlightened way in conjunction with the developers throughout this period.

“Glasgow has many redundant walls and though it has recently launched an initiative to encourage feature pieces in the area it has never provided a zone like this, one without editorial control and liberty for the artists, an ethos in keeping with the free spirit of street art.”

Artisan helped provide funding for the project.

Mr Rutterford said: “To the best of our knowledge this is the first time a building site hoarding has been treated in this way in the UK.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com